MANILA – The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) will undergo a reorganization this week following the signing of an “unauthorized’ resolution to import 300,000 metric tons (MT) of sugar, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos announced Wednesday.

“We are going to reorganize the SRA and as soon as that’s done — that should be done this week, before the end of this week,” he said in an interview with reporters during the Pinaslakas Vaccination event at SM City Manila.

Last week, Malacañang described as “illegal” the resolution to import 300,000 MT of sugar because it was rejected by the President.

Marcos said he will leave the investigation into the unauthorized signing of the order to Congress.

“Ipinaubaya namin ang imbestigasyon sa House, sa legislature and even the Senate. Dahil ang iniintindi ko lang talaga is that hindi tayo tumagal na mayroon tayong shortage ng sugar, lalong-lalo na para sa mga industrial consumer (We are leaving the investigation to the House, the legislature and even the Senate. Because what I am focusing on is that our shortage of sugar will not last, especially for industrial consumers),” Marcos said.

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles, however, said the Palace probe into the unauthorized signing of the resolution will still continue despite the President’s pronouncement that he will leave it to Congress.

Marcos also underscored the need to increase the supply of sugar in the food manufacturing industry to protect jobs.

Last week, DA Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian resigned after signing the SRA order on behalf of the President.

Another signatory of the resolution, SRA board member Roland Beltran, also stepped down on Sunday. He cited his health as the main reason for his decision to quit the board.

Tempering high sugar prices

Meanwhile, Marcos said he is in talks with sugar traders to impose a suggested retail price (SRP) of PHP70 per kilogram for sugar as several stores in Metro Manila have increased prices to as high as PHP100 per kilogram.

“They first offered at PHP80 so sabi ko hingin ko na PHP70. Tulungan niyo na lang, kasi kawawa naman yung tao (so I said can I ask PHP70. Just help the people since they’re struggling) and we’re getting there,” he said.

He hoped that he could arrive at a “good agreement” with traders.

On Monday, Marcos met with officials of the Philippine Chamber of Food Manufacturers Inc. (PCFMI) to arrive at a concession with traders to tame sugar prices.

Agriculture Undersecretary Kristine Evangelista earlier said the DA is considering an SRP of PHP90 per kilogram for sugar.

Marcos reiterated the need to import sugar to prevent a domestic sugar shortage.

He earlier said the government may need to import 150,000 MT of sugar, half of the 300,000 MT earlier proposed by the SRA, if the supply is depleted by October.

“Mag import na tayo (We will import). Unfortunately, it’s the same situation in all the agricultural commodities in the Philippines. Ayaw na ayaw natin mag import hangga’t maari ngunit ang problema hindi sapat yung production natin. Kung minsan yung presyo pati ay napakataas (We don't want to import as much as possible but the problem is that our production is not enough. Sometimes the price is also very high),” he said. (PNA)